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Trailblazers: Mountain biking on Cape Cod

CC NEMBA also sponsors members to attend events such as the recent Women’s Leadership Retreat at Kingdom Trails, in East Burke, Vermont. The group has also hosted two “adventure series” rides and two mountain bike summits with expert speakers on topics such as sustainable trail building and advocacy. To promote mountain biking as a family pastime, CC NEMBA treasurer Frank Merola of Marstons Mills has been leading kids’ rides during the summer. “I started the Friday Nite kids’ ‘Flip-Out’ rides three years ago,” he says. “It began with my two kids and me along with a fellow rider and her two kids just going out for a casual ride on a Friday evening, but soon this became an official ride on Friday nights at 5:30 from mid-May to Labor Day at the West Barnstable Conservation Area.” The Flip-Out ride also coincides with adult rides and a cookout. The ride is free and open to the public and to CC NEMBA members alike. “We have had as many as 20 kids on some of these rides,” says Merola. Chapter president Mike Dube concludes, “The stuff we’re doing on Friday night with kids and families is our real focus right now. We’re trying hard to get the younger generation involved.”

Dube Rock Trail

Mike Erickson of Sea Sports leads a group into the “Dube Rock Trail.”

Although the highest “mountains” on Cape Cod rise only about 300 feet above sea level, the area has become a destination for riders from all over New England. What really sets the Cape apart from most of New England is its relatively mild climate. Kris Ermi explains that “We might lose a week to a crazy snow storm, but otherwise we ride all winter.” Riders from the north, whose trails become unrideable, will journey to the Cape. Fat bikes, which have even wider tires than normal mountain bikes, allow for riding on packed snow and ice, as well as on some of the Cape’s beaches, though the National Seashore no longer permits this activity. A few groups even make an annual pilgrimage from the Montreal area. Dube says, “I like the camaraderie, everyone getting together, riding different areas all year-round.”

All of the trails that CC NEMBA maintains are free to use and open for hikers and trail runners as well. Many are even open to horses. The amount of hours that CC NEMBA members spend to keep these trails clear is staggering. “Especially this March,” says Kris Ermi, “when we had a nor’easter every week.” Volunteers cleared hundreds of downed trees, and the use of social media, such as Strava and Facebook, has allowed riders to alert others about trail blockages. Currently, organized rides take place at various trail systems nearly every day, often supported by local bike shops. Sailworld, for instance, hosts a Wednesday ride in North Falmouth, while Sea Sports sponsors a Monday “mellow/beginner” ride in Hyannis. Dan Bergquist, owner of Wheelhouse Bike Co. in Chatham, says, “The great thing about riding out here on the Cape is that there are so many choices. From Wellfleet to Otis, you go from peaches-and-cream smooth to rocky chunk as you go west back up the Cape.”

Riders can check the Cape Cod NEMBA Group page on Facebook or for specific details and directions.

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